What to pack for off-piste skiing when you ship your skis

Luggage Tips

You’ve shipped your luggage, touched down and caught your transfer to the mountain; you arrive in resort and it’s bucketing. Tomorrow promises blue skies and a foot of powder. You’re itching to get out there and lay down some fresh tracks. We know – when we’re not shipping skis we like a bit of the steep-and-deep.

But whether you’re an adventurous novice skier or a seasoned freerider, you need to be prepared. Here are Luggage Mule’s top tips for the skiing kit you need to enjoy the off-piste.

The basics

There is a bare minimum of kit to pack when you ship your skis if you’re planning an off-piste adventure – whether it’s a week’s heli-skiing in Alaska or a quick dip into some fluffy stuff at the edge of a piste.

Most guides, and even friends who know what they’re doing, won’t take you off-piste unless you have a shovel, probe and transceiver.

Transceivers emit a radio frequency that allows other people with transceivers to find you if you get buried in an avalanche. Turn your transceiver to search mode and use yours to search for your buddies if they get caught. Transceivers are not always intuitive to use and it takes some practice to be confident using one.

The idea of a probe (a bit like a long tent pole) is to poke into the snow once you’ve found a buried victim. Then you use your shovel to dig them out. Look for one with a hard-wearing aluminium blade.

Avalanche airbags

If you’re tackling some particularly avalanche-prone terrain then it can be worth investing in an airbag. Some studies credit airbags with a 97% avalanche survival rate; there’s almost as much research that questions these claims, but more and more skiers are seeing airbags as a good insurance policy.

Avalanche airbags work like the ones in cars; if you get caught in an avalanche then you pull a cord and the airbag is deployed instantly from your rucksack. The basic premise is that this huge balloon increases your surface area, making you more likely to float on top of a slide.

Overlooked essentials

Of course, you can go crazy with your ski equipment and splash out on gadgets, from ice axes that fit into your shovel handle to slope meters and breathing apparatus. But there are some unglamorous, trusty stalwarts that can be just as handy:

  • Climbing rope: just a short length can help you or a friend out of a tight spot
  • Snacks: sometimes you need a sugar hit after a long hike
  • Thermos: can make all the difference to keeping you warm in the backcountry
  • Extra layer: again, just in case the weather closes in
  • Thin inner gloves: did we mention you might get cold?

Know your stuff

But of course, having the right gear is no substitute for having the right idea. The real key to staying safe is good decision-making. If there’s one tip that can keep you safe above all else: if you’re not sure it’s safe then don’t ride it. Do your homework, and when you use Luggage Mule’s ski shipping service you can travel hassle-free and ready to tear up the off-piste.

Image credit: Zach Dischner on Flickr